Cri­nan Ho­tel

Cri­nan, Ar­gyll The heart of a charm­ing West High­land com­mu­nity

The Scots Magazine - - Eat, Drink, Sleep...the Reviews - By KA­T­RINA PA­TRICK

ELEVEN kilo­me­tres (seven miles) from Lochgilp­head, on roads get­ting smaller by the minute, I wasn’t sure what to ex­pect from Cri­nan.

The vil­lage lies in Knap­dale, look­ing out across Loch Cri­nan to Jura. The Cri­nan Canal con­nect­ing Loch Fyne to the sealoch is still pop­u­lar with yachts, but its days as a bustling freight route are over.

A right-turn led me on a sin­gle-track road. At its end I half-ex­pected to find a tired, run-down old vil­lage with­out much to write home about. This, I was pleased to dis­cover, couldn’t have been fur­ther from the truth.

There’s a buzz about Cri­nan. The cof­fee shop was full of fam­i­lies chat­ting, and strangers smiled “hello” on the canal paths. The warm sense of com­mu­nity is pal­pa­ble, and at the heart of that com­mu­nity is the Cri­nan Ho­tel.

Nick and Frances Ryan bought the ho­tel 48 years ago, and built it up to a fine stan­dard. In fact, Nick won Hote­lier of the Year in 1999. To­day, the Cri­nan Ho­tel boasts 20 rooms, a Seafood Bar, Miche­lin Plate-awarded West­ward Restau­rant, Gen­eral’s Bar, gallery, craft shop and rooftop restau­rant Lock 16.

Nick sadly passed away ear­lier this year, but Frances still runs the ho­tel with the help of her friendly staff. She is also an ac­com­plished artist un­der her maiden name of Frances Mac­don­ald, and you can see some of her work in the gallery.

She in­di­vid­u­ally de­signed all of the ho­tel’s rooms, pay­ing homage to dif­fer­ent Scot­tish artists.

My room had a su­perk­ing-size bed with white Egyp­tian cot­ton bed­ding, and a bath­room stocked with Ar­ran Aro­mat­ics. The wide bay windows looked out to sea, with a per­fect view of one of the ho­tel’s finest as­sets – re­stored teak mo­tor­boat, the Sgarbh.

Skip­pered by Nick and Frances’s son Ross Ryan, the Sgarbh runs short trips out to nearby islands, with seafood lunches pro­vided. It also runs pop­u­lar dis­tillery tours to Oban, Jura and Is­lay, or you can char­ter your own ex­pe­di­tion.

The ho­tel also of­fers a paint­ing ex­pe­di­tion fol­low­ing the Scot­tish Colourist trail out to Iona. Un­for­tu­nately, I didn’t have time to take ad­van­tage of the trips, but sim­ply view­ing the Sgarbh bob­bing in the wa­ter out­side my ho­tel win­dow was a de­light.

The West­ward Restau­rant of­fers gourmet din­ing, with a mouth­wa­ter­ing menu of seven cour­ses for £49.50. The scal­lop roe chow­der sounded sen­sa­tional, but I’d had a long day in the

The ho­tel boasts com­mand­ing views over the Sound of Jura

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